This is South River Model Works first release – 1991? – and I bought it not long after direct from South River.

Then it sat.

Then it moved.

And went into storage.

And sat.

And then I got to it – years after South River retired …


By the time I got around to pulling the box open, I had a slightly different vision than I originally intended

The original instruction manual


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It’s 1901 …

Way back in 1868, Delabarre came out west to make his money in gold and silver. When that didn’t pan out, he started a mill alongside a local creek. Being on the edge of a rocky ledge, there was plenty of stone building material available. Old man Delabarre cut a road in on the top of one of the ledges for access to the building.

As time went by, Delabarre was successful, helped by the fortuitous chance that the railroad was surveyed to come through on the ledge just above Delabarre’s road.

Delabarre’s ridge.


This was in 1883. Business was good and bound to get better when the railroad got running. Rather than sell out, Delabarre worked out a deal with the railroad and got a fancy new brick expansion to his facility. The new space had two floors with twice the footprint of the old stone building.

The flume and water-wheel stayed in place but the wheel couldn’t generate enough power for the expansion even if the creek hadn’t changed and settled down some from the old days. 

The new brick section was built right on top of the old road. The nature of the ground required retaining walls to be built; a small remnant of the old road was now the drive to the lower loading door. Coal for boiler fuel comes in this entrance.

Track level was now the main floor and entrance even if squeezed between the river and railroad. The railroad was originally standard gauge but Delabarre did enough business with mines higher up to provide direct narrow gauge service rather than setting up transfer service at Delabarre. The track is dual gauge up to a narrow gauge way just beyond Delabarre

Shortly after the railroad got running, business expanded yet again. There was no real room to expand the footprint a third floor was built – out of wood to save the weight of a third floor of brick. A clerestory was provided over the main floor; a high-bay tower, and offices and light storage above the original section of building.

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